The United Nations food agency today reported that countries in the Sahel are at risk of full-scale food and nutrition crisis.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that at least 15 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in Sahel region, including 5.4 million people in Niger, three million in Mali, 1.7 million in Burkina Faso and 3.6 million in Chad, as well as hundreds of thousands in Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania.
To address the predicted severe food crisis, FAO called for $69.8 million in additional funding to prevent a full-blown food and nutrition crisis from unfolding in Africa’s Sahel region.
“We need to act to prevent further deterioration of the food security situation and to avoid a full-scale food and nutrition crisis.” -FAO’s Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva
Mr. da Silva said part of the solution is to improve the access of farmers and herders to local markets, encourage the use of local products, and apply risk-reduction good practices to reinforce their resilience.
According to FAO, some 790,000 farming and herding households in Sahel have been affected by droughts.
There were also increases in the number of displaced persons in the region. A total of 63,000 internally displaced persons in Mali who fled from conflict in the country’s north, and more than 60,000 Malian refugees in neighbouring countries were reported by FAO.
FAO’s strategy to address the issue includes providing food, agricultural items such as fertilizers and pesticides.
Mr. da Silva stresses that if the world to avoid yet food disaster, the humanitarian and livelihoods responses must be funded and applied on a scale that ensures protection of all vulnerable communities before they are forced to shed their assets Mr. Graziano da Silva.
He also underlines that regional and local leadership will be crucial for preventing the food crisis to emerge again.
UN says vulnerable communities to hunger is in danger of repeating itself across the Sahel this year where more than one million children are at risk of severe malnutrition and 10 million people face hunger.
The Sahel has regularly been afflicted by food insecurity as drought, poor harvests and rising food prices have left the region on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
Last year, the World Food Programme (WFP) also implemented an emergency operation for 737,000 people, including acutely malnourished children, in parts of Chad, which has also been affected by the drought afflicting the eastern Sahel region.
In addition, WFP had fed 670,000 children under the age of two and their families in drought-stricken Niger, where as many as eight million people need assistance.